My ability to construct my own version of reality makes it possible for me to imagine people who don’t actually exist living detailed and nuanced lives that aren’t actually real. My affinity for living in my own head instead of in the here and now allows me to create something from nothing every time I sit down to write.
These “abilities” also make it difficult to function sometimes.
It takes practice to be present. It takes self-discipline to be still. But sometimes when my mind races I don’t know how to stop it. Even after 26 years of living with anxiety and all of the paranoia, delusions, and self-loathing that come with it. I know that voice inside my head isn’t my own–the one insisting that nothing is real or nothing is good enough. I know my fears are irrational and that all it takes is one sentence out loud or one word down on the page to expel the worst of them. But it is possible to be aware of the fallacy of your own anxiety and still be trapped in it.
So…I started seeing a counselor and even though my mind has already tried to sabotage the experience more than once I’m going to keep at it. Because I want to be in control of what my mind creates instead of that creation controlling me.
I thought this would be the year of answers but it’s turning out to be the year of questions. Big scary ones. I changed full-time jobs, hoping to feel less exhausted and more fulfilled but in all the chaos of the holidays and everything else that’s been going on, I haven’t written or revised or even thought about creating something in almost three months. It’s felt like an eternity and the more time that passes, the more I wonder whether I could actually exist this way.
Today was my first day off in the past eight and I should have spent it working on revisions but I just couldn’t get started. I didn’t want to. I was afraid of too many things–of spending another two years on the same emotional roller-coaster of being an indie author and of not. It would be so easy to stop, to just forget about this series mid-draft, to take my books off sale, to remove every bit of my social media identity. I actually considered it this week and not just because I got some shitty reviews or because I almost lost a friend because of them or because I’m tired and unhappy and unsure. But because I’m afraid.
I’ve faced my fears of failure before but this time is different because I’m not just questioning my path as a writer, I’m questioning everything about my life. I don’t want to be a bystander, a thin reed that bows whichever way the wind blows just because I’m afraid of making a mistake or of being alone. I don’t want to be afraid of the future but I am. Because for the first time in my life I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like.
Last Saturday was my 23rd birthday. Twenty-three… That’s closer to 25 than 20, which means that I’m almost to the halfway point of my Twenties, which means that I’m almost to that dreaded millennial quarter life crises. And it is real. Trust me, I can already feel it looming, like I’m nothing but a spark traveling down a fuse and the only thing that is going to stop that bomb at the end from detonating is…I don’t know. I know what I want to achieve by the time I’m 25 and I know what I want to have and do and say and create but even if I do accomplish all of those things, will that level of “success” be enough? Will any success I ever have be enough? So then how do I measure the past year of my life? How do I measure the years to come?
Last year my birthday plans got derailed by real life and when it came to celebrating this year I didn’t even attempt something grand. In fact I didn’t even want it. Because I didn’t need it. Last year I felt robbed and angry as if adulthood was some thief in the night who had come and taken all of my joy. This year I actually found satisfaction in all of the sacrifice and responsibility. So even though another year has gone by without bringing an end to my artists’ struggle, so much has changed. Mentally and emotionally I’ve learned to embrace the fear and the sacrifice and the delays and the unpredictability of life. I’ve learned to embrace the challenge that is creating. I’m not perfect. I still get overwhelmed and wish that giving up was an option. But it’s not. Because through all of the growth and all of the changes, it’s my spirit that has changed the most and that has made all the difference.
So now in no particular order, here are all of the insane and intriguing insight from the past 365 days I spent as a twenty-two-year-old from the cheesy to the overly-dramatic to the disappointingly true.